Tuesday, December 27, 2011

bringing the light


I've been waking up before dawn, so I can watch the sunrise...bringing the light.

It is the best part of the day for me. A few moments with my coffee, the quiet, and the sun streaming in the window...shining through the flowers on my windowsill...


The light captures the flax on the distaff, and invites me to sit at the wheel. My mother's little flax wheel came home for Christmas. Fred Hatton spent some time with her, getting her back in shape to make many more miles of linen thread.


Spinning flax when I wake up is delightful...it is very much like I am still asleep..and just dreaming of spinning flax. And yes, I do sometimes dream that I am spinning flax. It is a good place for my mind to be at rest. How do I describe the hypnotic trance it seems to put me under? And the feeling of well being it gives me...


Did you notice my flyer hooks? Fred fulfilled a special request of mine...to have my flyer hooks on the upper right arm, the better for spinning S twist...widdershins...withershins or whidderschynnes.. ..perhaps that is why it seems as if time is standing still...and


it isn't long before my coffee cup is empty, and so the distaff is empty of flax...but the bobbin is half full.


For such a delicate little wheel, she sure likes to work hard and get a lot spun. Thank you Fred, for fix'in her up ...she is a keeper!

Friday, December 23, 2011



Star of Wonder in the heavens...

Wonder what you want of me..

Should I follow you tonight?

Star of Wonder, burning bright.

a cappella written by terre roche ~may your holiday season be filled with peace, love, joy and beauty~

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

starting to finish


I've been working on getting some Alpaca Fleece processed for hand spinning. It is a good job to do when the weather turns cold..I work in the mud room near the wood burning stove. First I sort and scour the fiber. I've been using Unicorn Products and absolutely love how they do such a wonderful job. I place some Alpaca in the basin with Power Scour.

After a quick bath, the fiber comes out of the rinse and goes directly into the dye pots that are simmering on the stove. While the dye strikes, I am busy blending and carding. This is a good multi-tasking type of day..and from time to time I change my activities..switching up between carding, dyeing, scouring etc. The clean smell (has a touch of fresh lavendar) of the Unicorn Fiber Rinse fills the air as I work ....and the colors on the drying rack greet me the next morning...reminding me I still have more work to do.


The early morning sun catches the colors and I am pleased with the results...the greens...


...the reds...


I find myself pondering names for colorways..


...and the job continues...on and off the drum....


...there are a few more bags to tie before the job is finished....


..so not exactly "in the bag" ~ yet.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

sun catcher

Sunrise at 7:10 AM in direction 119° East-southeast East-southeast Sunset at 4:35 PM in direction 240° West-southwest West-southwest Duration of day: 9 hours, 25 minutes (53 seconds shorter than yesterday) Sun in south at 11:52 AM at altitude 27° above horizon


There were 53 less seconds of sunlight today. And we will be losing seconds of sunlight each day until the 21st of December. Have you noticed?

It is only a few minutes..but I am sensitive to lack of sunlight..and it feels like hours. I appreciate each second ..I wish I could bottle it.

Some days, the sun does not even come out. Today, it showed up ...just in time to go down at 4:00pm. Oh, I know you are saying the sun does not go down until 4:30 ...but I live in the river valley, and it goes behind the mountain at about 4pm. I had to walk fast to catch it.





at the very last, only the tree tops catch the light.


I've been lighting the candles indoors. It helps....


.....so does the moonlight!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

phenological events november 2011

2nd white oaks drop leaves
4th frost on garden
12th black bear on property
16th 8point buck and 2spike
28th raccoon breaks into henhouse

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

cap and booties


We spent our Thanksgiving holiday visiting with family...so we were on the road a good part of the time. It gave me a chance to finish up this set of booties and matching hat for the newest member of the extended family...little Elizabeth Margaret. I intended to make the Better than Booties Baby Socks by Ann Budd, but reached for my old stand-by pattern..scribbled out in my hand writing from years ago when I was knitting for my own baby. Where does the time go?


The hat worked up in a jiffy too...Quick and Easy Baby Hat by MyFairKatie on Ravelry. I like this pattern so much I might have to adjust it to an adult sized head! The hat finishes at the top of the crown, and the stitches turn into an icord that ties. Cute!

Both the hat and the booties knit up on US size 3 needles..with handspun ...not sure what it was..something soft that was leftover from some other project and just enough to finish a hat and booties with. Lots of love and good wishes for a little girl were locked into each stitch! I hope they will keep her warm and snuggly over the next few months...little ones grow so fast! I should start working on the next size up!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

happy thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving !

Enjoy the bounty!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

mr. postman


Dear Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe,

I read about your speech earlier this week, the one where you spoke to the National Press Club in Washington DC. In your speech, you mentioned that "Congress needs to step back and look at the postal service as a business".

What ever happened to the idea that the basic function of the Post Office was to provide a service? Remember the old quotation:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Sir, I realize that you have a lot of speeches to make right now, and that things look grim for the future of the U.S. Postal Service.... but could you please find the sock that I mailed to my Uncle R. last week?

This past summer, my Uncle R. kindly requested a pair of hand-knit socks from me. I picked out the nicest color of a good quality sock yarn, Zauberball, and set to work on them. I found just the right pattern in the book, "Folk Socks" by Ann Budd. I was faithful..working nightly on my US size one bamboo knitting needles. Once, I had to frog back when I noticed a small mistake....however, I finally finished one of the size 12 socks just in time for his birthday.

I carefully packed it in a padded envelope that I purchased from my local Post Office, which, by the way, is within walking distance from my cabin. I enclosed a birthday card with instructions for my uncle to try on the sock to make sure it fit properly, and to let me know if any alterations needed to be made. If the sock fit perfectly, I would make the other sock and deliver it to him for Christmas.

You see, Post Master General, Sir, it has been over 2 weeks ago that I mailed the sock. When I was mailing the size 12 sock, I asked my Postmistress, Ethel, (yes...we are on a first name basis)..."Ethel", I said, "How long do you think this package will take to deliver?" And Ethel answered that it would probably take a few days at the most. I was mailing it First Class, and it was just going to the next state over. I picked out the stamps and paid the fee of three dollars and twenty-five cents. I didn't think it was necessary to purchase a tracking code, which now, in retrospect, I wish I had.

My Uncle R. and I talked over the telephone on his birthday...I asked if he had received a package from me, and he had not. We figured it must have been the Veterans Day holiday that delayed things...giving the U.S. Postal Service the benefit of the doubt. As of yesterday, my uncle has not yet received the sock I made for him. Or his birthday card.

If there is anything at all you can do to find the missing sock package, I would be very grateful. After all, I did promise my uncle I would make him a pair of socks, and size 12 socks require a lot of knitting, especially on size one U.S. knitting needles with Zauberball Sock yarn. And if you don't find the missing sock package and deliver it to my uncle, I shall have to make two more size 12 socks...and I'm a little worried that I might not have enough Zauberball yarn left, and you know how tricky it can be to match up yarn from a certain dye lot.

Also, I notice that you and I share the same last name. So I am keeping my fingers crossed that things go a little better for both of us in the near future. I have attached the above photo of the unfinished sock for identification, you never know how many single socks may be lost in the U.S. Postal Service System.

Hopefully yours... deliver de letter de sooner de better....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

note to self

*make note to self.


A few days ago, I wound off the yarn that was on the bobbin of my Canadian Production Wheel. A custom blend of my own making..some Alpaca, Gotland, and Tussah Silk...spun up soft and silky...long-draw and woolen style..nice for knitting with.


A spontaneous decision resulted in the making of a plying ball, so I wound half of the bobbin off with my skein winder. I took the tail of that half, together with the tail of what was left on the bobbin ...and wound off together to make my ply ball.


I now have a lovely skein that was wound off on the Nod with the twist set in soft bath..and tenderly air dried near the gentle heat from the glow of the coal stove. One problem. I don't have a yardage count. I'm sure I counted the turns I took on the Nod...just absent-mindlessly-neglected to write it down. Does this ever happen to you?


On a happy note...I have been invited to write a regular column for the MAPACA newsletter. You can find the newsletter online here... or simply use the link by clicking on the MAPACA Newsletter Icon conveniently located on my sidebar. Look for "riverrim alpaca notebook" to read about my adventures with Alpaca fibers.

The Mid-Alantic Alpaca Association Newsletter is a terrific publication. Editor-in-Chief, Diane Beauchner of Shepherd Hills Alpacas in Wescosville, Pennsylvania does a fantastic job of putting the Newsletter together (and she is so much fun to work for!)

"News You Can Use" is a true statement here... and I would encourage you to download it, or sign up for your own hard copy. The hard copy publication is a nice full color magazine type presentation..good break time reading material... (curl up on a crispy fall afternoon with an alpaca afghan and hot beverage of your choice). There is always something interesting to read about... Spinners and Weavers out there may want to take a look at the article on page 18... "From Vision to Fabric and Beyond" by Wini Lebrecque. So inspiring!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

novemberbeaver moon


We had a lovely frosty full moon last night. I should have hung my fine linens out on the clothes line for bleaching. Maybe next month.

The sunlight and moonlight of November have made me restless. As restless as the oak leaves rustling underfoot..everything seems crisp, the light, the leaves, the air..I am restless and alert. I wake in the night with eyes wide open and moonlight pouring in my window. It is so lovely, I roll over, closer to the window where I stare and stare at the blue black sky and white stars. Who can sleep when there is so much beauty going on outside?

The whitetail are restless too. The rutting season almost over, they are always on the move, hard to photograph. In a few weeks, they will settle down..the leaves will settled down too, and winter will settle in.


This years fawn still tags along with mama, not ready to go it alone.


Not wanting to be left behind, not wanting obstacles to come between them...the fawn is restless too....


The seasons are changing. Maybe that is why- the restlessness. Are you ready? Are you finished? ..the wind is bringing the change as it chases the leaves across the field. ..yes..sometimes I can almost see it happening..season overlap...summer not yet finished, but winter wanting to begin...


Saturday, November 05, 2011

buttons on the brain

I love buttons. Some of my earliest memories are of buttons. My mother kept a tin box full of buttons, and I remember spending hours playing with her buttons...., sorting them, counting them, arranging them into shapes and pictures, faces...I even confess to putting one or two of them into my mouth because I thought they might taste as wonderful as they looked.

Buttons keep things together. Fastened. Connected. These past few weeks, buttons have kept me connected with people. Sally, Susie and Mary. They don't know each other but they all know me, and my handmade buttons. See? Connected.

First, there is Sally Rowe.


Sally is a founding member of the Barryville Area Arts Association.

Sally had purchased some of my handmade buttons a few years ago at a local festival. She emailed me to inquire if I had any more buttons that may match one of the buttons she had previously acquired.

I arranged to meet with her, and she showed me the buttons that she was trying to match. It was fun to see some of my older buttons...it was as if I was meeting an old friend. I don't often get to see any of my handmade buttons after they leave, so it was fun for me. I remembered where I was and what I was thinking about when I made them.


Sally knit this gorgeous sweater out of Berrocco (Peruvia Quick).. and she picked out a few more of my handmade buttons that would fit the button holes in her sweater. I really enjoyed chatting with her, and watching her select certain buttons that she liked. She wound up choosing the toggle shaped buttons for her sweater. I think she made a good choice, and I'm sure you agree. Isn't it cool the way she sewed them onto the sweater? The slant of the toggle button reflects the slant in the cables. Perfect!


Susie contacted me this week to request a special sized button. She wanted to replace a plastic button with one made of wood.


She even sent me the plastic button that she was going to replace. This made it easy for me to work one up to the same size and substance.


Luckily, the weather was beautiful and I set up to work outside on the deck. Occasionally, I would look up at the ceiling of my "studio".


As I worked on the button, I was aware of the sounds of the river, and the birds..the wind through the leaves on the oak tree..the occasional car driving past....my wind chimes... I lost track of the time and concentrated instead on the smooth surface of the wood on my fingertips. I thought of all the buttons my hands have made, and how each button contains a little piece of my imagination in it....I thought about all those buttons going out into the universe.

.....small little bits of my imagination in the form of a button....going out into a very big universe... Suddenly, I realized this button was finished. I will pack it up and send it out on Monday.

I hope she likes it.


Finally, we come to Mary.

A few days ago, I discovered Mary's button portraits. I was at once- surprised...delighted...entranced!

You can go look at them, I'll wait....


When I looked at these portraits, it was as if someone had been inside of my mind and created the images of the buttons of my memories!

There they were!

Colorful and Happy!

Floating around in the universe just as they float around in my memories!


These portraits are so like the buttons that live in my mother's button tin! The details, the essence of them...it is all there.. I smiled and smiled and even got a few chills when I looked at them. Oh my, the universe is an amazing place...full of all sorts of surprises..and buttons too.

...and yep...somehow we are all connected...

Monday, October 31, 2011

phenological events October 2011

2nd goldenrod blooming
3rd barberry berries
15th turkeys parade
18th pine needles drop
19th deer ticks spotted
30th ten inches snow!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

turkeys and toque


The turkeys show up each morning for coffee. They are hard to photograph because they are wary. I try to open the door latch without a sound, but they always notice.

This is a small rafter of turkeys..maybe they are considered a colevey, or a gobble of turkeys. I have seen flocks that are much larger. In past years, their numbers have exceeded 20 and 30 at a time. I've heard stories of nets being launched out of cannons, to capture and relocate them. They can devastate the undergrowth of a forest floor, eating the new growth. I didn't notice these turkeys as summer pullets.


Most of them seem to be males, though I didn't notice any beards hanging down, I saw the colors on their almost featherless heads changing from blue to red. I've often wondered about this...and what causes it. Hens usually have more of a gray blue head, and certainly more feathers that act as camouflage. Hens and Toms both have snoods. Snoods are the fleshy comb like growths that dangle down around their beaks, or bills. The snoods on these turkeys are still small, so maybe they are this years pullets.


I have finished another commission for Finca Alta Vista. This is a Toque hat, based on a design by Anna Zilboorg. I worked it up from two strands each of handspun alpaca (Allspice and Violette).


While I was knitting the strands, I worked from the inside and outside of two center pull balls. The Herringbone Braid called for a tricky maneuver now and then to keep the yarn from tangling on itself. No worries, I stopped knitting occasionally and held the work in the air to allow the balls of yarn to unspiral. I found that technique to be amusing.


Finally, I had taken the project with me to a spin day afternoon, and made a mistake in the decreases. I wound up letting it sit in my project bag for several weeks before I was in the right frame of mind to "tink" (or knit backwards) and discover the mistake. Thankful for stitch markers, there.


Once the mistake was corrected, the decreases fell into place and the crown was finished.

While surfing the internet the other night, I stumbled on a quotation. I managed to copy the quote before crashing..but I don't know where I found it. It describes how I feel about creating things in my mind as I go about daily chores and responsibilities, whilst I dream textile thoughts...other things I want to be working on.

“You know, I embroider my blouses with two heads. During the night, one of my heads dreams of designs, drawings, colors, and stitches and during the day my other head thinks of all the other things that a woman does: watering the animals, cooking, making tortillas, and besides all that, embroidering the blouse that I was dreaming of. One head is for me and the other is for my people.”

Nahua woman, Manuela El Tectil Mexicano, Linea y Color


Thursday, October 20, 2011

got friends got gotland


A few months ago, my virtual friend, Catena Cathy, sent me a small package of a sampling of Gotland locks that she had been working with...a surprise in my postoffice box! They came from Riverbend Gotlands and were the first sample of Gotland locks that my hands had ever touched. With SO many different breeds of sheep in the world, it is always a thrill for me to sample something I can add to my breed notebook.

Hailing from the Swedish Island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, the Gotland breed (through artificial insemination) have been in the United States since 2003. I feel fortunate to have the chance to work with the samples. You may have noticed that the locks were from New Jersey and arrived by way of Colorado...pay no attention to that..suffice it to say that Catena has "ulterior designs" and I am more than happy to acquiesce.

Soon after I started to work with the locks, another virtual friend, gypsyspinner Jody, was kind enough to send me a sample of the Gotland Blend batts that she is working up with the fiber from Hubbertfarms. The samples are of special interest to me since I work with a good deal of Alpaca, and Jody has been working up her own blends of Gotland and Alpaca. Jody sent a note that explained that the batts had been hand prepared and the the Gotlands were 75% with the balance of Finn or Shetland..(other favorites of mine!)

Here is a close up photo of the basket I'm currently working with, it contains the steel gray, lustrous, full of curl and energy, soft and silky locks and beautifully prepared, ready to pick up and spin batts.

I got friends. I got gotland. I iz a happy spinster.


So ...at some point in time.. at a Hatton Friday-dyeday..I took handfuls of my locks and tossed them into different dyepots. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them..just wanted to experiment.


Over the last few weeks, I've been hand carding the dyed locks and spinning out the color. Such a pleasure to work with! I have been spinning long draw, letting some of the curls fluff out, making an irregular soft yarn, which I finally decided to Navajo or chain ply. I was doubtful that my singles had enough integrity to stand on their own, and I wanted to preserve the color runs...so the chain ply seemed like the right choice.


After that, I wound off onto the niddy-noddy and skeined almost 120 yards of a 3ply woolen yarn with 8-10 wpi...that I soused and thwacked to within an inch of its life.


I intend to spin up the remainder of the grey roving and locks that are still in the basket, so that I might have enough to do a color-work hat.

Many thanks, Cathy and Jody! I only wish we could meet IRL--but I am enjoying working with both of you through the blogosphere...for now...anyway...until the time comes that we can sit down and spin together..somewhere!

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